It’s hard to find a living room console which Diablo III has not been released on. Since coming out in May 2012, Blizzard’s classic dungeon crawler has been released on two generations of Microsoft and Sony consoles, Windows and macOS. So when Blizzard first announced that a consolidated version of Diablo III was coming to the Switch, more than six years after its original release, I was somewhat lukewarm. Could such a game really compete with Switch standouts such as Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey? I’m delighted to say that it definitely can, and Diablo III is now a permanent addition to my Switch library.
Diablo III: Eternal Collection collates Diablo III and its Reaper of Souls expansion and the Rise of the Necromancer pack. There is just a staggering amount of content in this game, and that is one of the first and most significant advantages of this game. It’s exciting, but can admittedly be a little overwhelming at times – especially when you stop to consider how much time you need to sink in to complete the five-story acts with seven distinct character classes. Thankfully, the Switch’s ability for players to carry around hundreds of hours of content really shines in such a long game and makes those short grinding sessions much more accessible.
Players would be familiar with the Diablo series’ tried and true brand of hack and slash gameplay. Similar to the Borderlands series, players traverse diverse landscapes, killing monsters and obtaining loot while progressing the story. The hunt for loot is really the core driver of the game. You can change your character’s entire kit, including their helm, weapons, shields, and outfits. Blizzard has done an admirable job of mapping the huge inventory management system to the Switch. You’re able to quickly equip or discard a new item without going into a menu screen. And while the menu presentation and inventory management system is a little dated, kudos must be given to the developers as this formula is as addicting and satisfying as it was back in 2012. In the days of 4K gaming, it’s nice to say that the core gameplay experience is, as always, the bedrock of a great game.
Diablo III’s visuals are good, but definitely nothing to shout about in 2018. While the game favours style over sheer technical wizardry (no pun intended), the visuals nonetheless create distinct environments and creature types, both of which are absolutely crucial to maintaining interest throughout a long campaign. Fortunately, the game runs at a rock solid 60 FPS (even where there are heaps of visual effects happening onscreen), something that not a lot of Switch games can boast of. This framerate goes a long way towards adding to the game’s playability and is maintained even when the Switch is running in handheld mode.
Multiplayer is where Diablo III really shines, and this is particularly evident in the Switch’s local multiplayer options. It just works really well and is a big reason that this game is now permanently installed on my Switch. However, I’d recommend that each player be provided either with a full set of two Joy-Cons or a Pro Controller as button mapping on a single Joy Con can be quite messy. Players would also be happy to know that despite being relatively underpowered compared to other home consoles, I noticed no slowdown to Diablo III’s frame rate even when four players were casting spells and wreaking havoc on demons.
Online play is also solid. If you have an open party, players can join and leave your game as they wish. As of the time of writing, there appears to be a robust online community, but whether this is maintained (especially when taking into account the age of the core game) remains to be seen. Unfortunately, I did experience some difficulties in connecting with a friend on Nintendo Switch Online. Both of us could see each other within Diablo III’s menus but were just unable to connect. Looking online, while this does not appear to be universal, it is also not an isolated incident. Online is obviously critical to this game so here is hoping that Blizzard issues a fix soon.
Diablo III is a beautiful marriage of excellent content, timeless gameplay and the Switch’s plug and play design. Despite its age, it still manages to be a fun hack and slash adventure that is best experienced with friends. The Switch’s library has dramatically matured since it launched in 2017, and I do hope more developers emulate Blizzard’s lead and bring the appropriate franchises to this unique console. If you own a Switch and are looking for a fun, casual multiplayer game, you’ll enjoy Diablo III.